by Patti Richter
As a child, I always hoped to draw the “cozy cottage” card when playing The Game of Life. It was not until years later, as I began unpacking boxes in a much smaller home than what we had left behind, that I realized the folly of my game plan.
It may not have been a life-threatening ordeal, but my new challenge sure felt like preparation for the next life. The cross-country move, saying goodbye to family and friends, and down-sizing to that interim home tilted my world a few degrees off its axis.
As I had packed, my mother-in-law warned me, “It’s much easier to move up than down.” Her words proved true as I tossed perfectly good furniture and household items overboard. I commiserated with America’s settlers who abandoned bedsteads and pianofortes alongside wagon trails to lighten their load.
I wasn’t the only one struggling. For weeks, my husband had repeated Luke 12:15 (NIV) like a mantra to console himself: “A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” His power tools and lawn equipment didn’t make the keep-list, either.
Just one week into the unpacking, I had thrown everything else aside in the interest of making our new place comfortable and homey. But I soon realized it would take months of undivided attention to accomplish that goal. This was a luxury I did not have, as I believed God had brought us to this place for a better purpose, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works” (Ephesians 2:10 NIV). I knew my time was not my own. I needed to center my priorities on however the Lord led me to serve.
I used to think ill of King Solomon for his priorities. He spent seven years in building God’s temple. But after it was complete, he then spent thirteen years on his own house (1 Kings 6:38 – 7:1). Now, after moving and becoming consumed with me, myself, and dozens of unopened boxes, I realized Solomon actually did have his priorities right: He put God’s house first.
Whenever life takes a turn, whether toward adventure or misadventure, it’s easy to become self-focused and lay aside the things that really matter. While our faith might be fully functional when life is in order, new circumstances can disrupt our “holy habits.” Bible study, devotions, corporate worship, fellowship, outreach, and service to others can get put on hold or completely drop off our radar screen if we’re not careful.
We can too easily fall for the lie: if I can just get this list of things done, I will turn my attention to more spiritual matters.
In one of C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia books, The Silver Chair, a girl named Jill is summoned to Aslan’s country on a mission to find a missing Narnian prince. But Jill keeps getting distracted and forgets to look for the signs she’d been told to watch for. Fear of the strange surroundings, along with natural desires for creature comforts—food, warmth, clothing—become stumbling blocks to completing what she had set out to do.
The apostle Paul mentioned losing a co-laborer who abandoned their mission, “because he loved this world” (2 Timothy 4:10 NIV). These words finally nudged me to get unpacked enough to be functional and out the door. Even better? Get out the door and let the boxes wait.
[Christ] died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again. 2 Corinthians 5:15 NIV
About the author: Patti Richter lives in north Georgia with her husband, Jim. She is a freelance journalist and long-time faith columnist at BlueRibbonNews.com with more than four hundred published articles.
Patti is the co-author of Signs of His Presence—Experiencing God’s Comfort in Times of Suffering. It is the story of Luann Mire, whose godly husband was blindsided by an
indictment due to a former employer’s tax fraud. The resulting prison sentence and restitution took the once joyful couple into a long season of suffering as they fought judicial tyranny. Helpless to change her situation, Luann endured a painful examination of her life and found God faithful to His promises.
Join the conversation: What challenges have made you lose sight of important priorities? How did you rectify the situation?